I have been planned a trip to Racha – the mountainous region of Georgia – for longer time. For years I have heard so much how beautiful this region is and now I get there for two days, what, of course, is too short to explore all the beauty and to get real feeling.
In a first day we have decided to visit a remote place somewhere on the top of mountain – Mravaldzali.
The road to this beautiful village starts from Ambrolauri-Oni road at Mukhli Village. Actually there are two roads, but this one is much better. Tourists must note, that for this road is highly recommended to take 4×4 vehicle, which, by the way, has been friendly provided (as this tour also has been managed) by VayTravel – the small local tour company owned by my friend Maria. I could recommend her as trusted companion and service provider, good guide and simply caring person. For more information and contacts please visit her website here.
The other one condition for visiting this place is dry weather conditions – if it is raining or snowing it is better to choose other destination. In winter time this village is not reachable.
Mukhli-Mravaldzali road is only 12 km long, but it takes 1-1,5 h to reach the endpoint. On the go you will pass silent and quite beautiful Samtisi, Kvemo Bari and Zemo Bari villages.
Approaching Mravaldzali you will notice yellowish-white church, which was built in the first part of XI century, then was drastically rebuilt in 1984 and almost fully destroyed by earthquake in 1991. In 2007 government has managed the renovation. This is the only one church in Georgia, which has heads of bull and cow on its facade.
In Mravaldzali village you will see many houses, which are in quite good condition. Here are only 4-5 permanent inhabitants, other owners are visiting their houses only during summertime.
From village is a beautiful panoramic views to Great Caucasus mountains and, if you reach the top of the hill over the church, you can get 360 degrees view.
Approximately 3 km from Mravaldzali Village is Cholevi Lake. People say it has the form of heart, but I cannot say it is something extremely beautiful. You can easily reach it by feet. It is nothing more, than you can see from the village, but for picnic is a good place. From the path you can catch amazing view to this stunning village – Mravaldzali.
Images by Aleksandrs Znovs ©
TBILISI — The head of Georgia’s influential Orthodox Church called Thursday on the authorities to ban a gay rights rally set to be held in the deeply religious country.
The call came a day before gay rights activists were to stage a brief demonstration in central Tbilisi to mark the International Day against Homophobia.
“Any religious and scientific teaching – except for modern pseudo-science – considers homosexuality to be an anomaly and illness,” Patriarch Ilia II wrote in an open letter to Tbilisi’s mayor.
“The authorities should annul permission given to homosexuals for the demonstration,” he added.
Ultra-conservative Orthodox believers have said they will hold a simultaneous counter-demonstration and have threatened to disrupt the gay rally.
A year ago a similar gay rally – the first of its kind to be held in Georgia– was violently broken up by a group of Orthodox priests and their supporters shouting abuse and aiming punches at rights activists.
In a statement released on Thursday the country’s billionaire Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili pledged that police would protect the gay rally and said the government was committed to defending the rights of minorities.
Their “rights are human rights and the government of Georgia is committed to upholding the rights of all of its citizens,” Ivanishvili said in the statement.
In safety guidelines issued ahead of the rally, gay rights group Identity said there was “a reasonable expectation that the demonstration will end peacefully, without confrontations.”
Homosexuality is still highly stigmatised in Georgia, a deeply socially conservative ex-Soviet state in the Caucasus where the Orthodox Church retains immense clout.